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UN to vote on peacekeepers for CAR

African peacekeeping mission troops known as MISCA, listen to US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power in Bangui (9 April 2014)African troops are battling to contain the conflict which began when the president was toppled in March 2013

The UN Security Council is due to vote on sending a 12,000-strong force to the Central African Republic (CAR).

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has warned of “ethno-religious cleansing” in CAR, with lynchings, decapitations and sexual violence going unpunished.

France has drafted a resolution pushing for UN intervention to end the chaos which began just over a year ago.

It has 2,000 troops operating in its former colony alongside a 6,000-strong African Union (AU) force.

Thousands have been killed in the conflict between Christian militias and Muslim rebels since last year and the UN says that about 1.3 million people – a quarter of the population – are in need of aid.

An anti-balaka fighter, member of a militia opposed to the Seleka rebel group, lifts up a machete threatening any Seleka that may attack, on the outskirts of the Boy-Rabe neighbourhood in Bangui on December 14, 2013Vigilante groups have been targeting Muslims in the capital, Bangui, where Christians make up the majority

The proposed resolution authorises French troops to “use all necessary means” to provide support to AU troops, the AFP news agency reports.

The new UN force would be expected to take over from the AU force in September.

The French-authored resolution gives the UN force the mandate to protect civilians and humanitarian convoys, maintain order, and support the political transition in CAR, AFP reports.

On Wednesday, at least 30 people were killed and another 10 wounded in fighting in the central town of Dekoa, police said.

Predominantly Christian anti-balaka militia members attacked positions held by the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels, they said.

CAR exploded into religious violence amid mounting resentment toward a Muslim-led government.

The Muslim rebels seized power in March 2013 by overthrowing President Francois Bozize – who had been in power for a decade.

The rebel leader who replaced him, Michel Djotodia, was accused of failing to prevent his forces from raping, torturing and killing civilians – particularly among the country’s Christian majority.

When Mr Djotodia left power under regional pressure in January, Christian militia fighters began attacking Muslim civilians in retaliation.

The country is rich in gold, diamonds and other natural resources but decades of unrest and mismanagement have left most of its people stuck in poverty.

Map showing the location of the Central African Republic and the countries that border it

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